Heating Controls can save energy and money
Have my neighbours done this?
What is it?
They allow the user to regulate the house temperature
What will it save me?
Potentially saves up to 20% of the heating costs
How do I get it?
Needs to be installed by a specialist contractor
What does it cost?
Costs from £100-500 depending on what's installed (2013)
What are the technical details?
A central heating system will only achieve its optimum efficiency if it is fully controlled in terms of time and temperature. Time control is achieved using a programmer and temperature control is achieved by a room thermostat and in the case of a radiator system, thermostatic radiator valves. All of these controls are necessary for an efficient radiator heating system and will be required by the Building Regulations whenever a replacement central heating boiler is fitted.
The programmer will allow the user to control when the heating and hot water system is operating and when it's off. Most will include one heating circuit and one hot water circuit, unless fitted to a combination boiler which has an in-built hot water control.
The on and off times are set to suit the living pattern of the user and will usually include the option to include 2 or 3 on periods per day. Some will allow weekends to be different or every day to be different. The programmer will also have options to keep the heating on just during the time periods, to keep it on all day (a typical weekend requirement), to keep it on 24 hours a day (typically used in very cold weather) or to switch it off (summer).
A room thermostat is used to control the average room temperature of the house and is usually fitted 1.5m above floor level on an internal wall in a relatively cool room such as the hall. It will switch the heating system on when the temperature is lower than its setting and switch it off when the required temperature is reached. Some thermostats are available as remote devices that can be used anywhere in the house and don't need fixed wiring.
The room thermostat is important because it operates the boiler directly, preventing it working unnecessarily.
A programmable thermostat is a single device that provides combined time and temperature control. These are frequently used for the radiator circuit of a combination boiler and for individual zones in a zoned heating system.
Zone control refers to a heating system that is split into several circuits, for example a ground floor and separate first floor circuit. This would enable the upstairs and downstairs to be operated at different times and temperatures.
Each zone has its own room thermostat and timer, but also needs a motorised valve fitted to control the flow of water to each heating circuit. This should make the house more comfortable without wasting energy by heating rooms when they are not being used.
Thermostatic radiator valves are usually mechanical devices that regulate the amount of water passing through a radiator to control the room temperature. Most are not capable of switching the boiler off directly but are a simple way of achieving individual temperature control in different rooms of the house. These can be easily added to an existing radiator system to provide a version of zone control without any changes in pipework.
Fitting all heating controls requires a heating engineer with the necessary electrical qualifications to confirm the system complies with Building Regulations.